The president and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library is encouraging parents upset over recent book bans to get more involved in schools.
In an interview with Changing America from The Hill, Linda Johnson said parents who are outraged over the spike in legislation targeting many book titles should be "active in their PTAs" and that elected officials should work to shine a light on the most recent wave of censorship hitting schools.
"I think it's got to be a collective effort," Johnson said. "The answer is getting involved and it's really a time to act."
There has been a growing debate over the last couple of years about books in public and school libraries, especially those available to young readers. Conservative and religious groups have been calling for the removal of books with strong LGBTQ+ and sexually explicit themes.
In Dearborn, Michigan, which has a large Arab American population, about 1,000 people attended a school board meeting on Oct. 13 over concerns about books, the Detroit Free Press reported. Most of the protesters were Arab American Muslims, joined by white conservative Christians who have helped initiate the movement. So far, the school district has pulled six books for review, several of which have LGBTQ+ themes.
Last year, the American Library Association found 1,597 individual books were challenged. There have been 2,532 instances of individual book bans across the United States impacting 1,648 titles between July 2021 and June of this year, according to PEN America, an organization that advocates for free speech. Most of those titles are books that either have an LGBTQ protagonist, touch on themes of gender identity or have a main character that is a person of color, the organization found.
The Brooklyn Public Library launched a program in April called Books Unbanned which allows teens and young adults as old as 21 across the U.S. access the library's online collection for free.
"We feel like you're only 13 to 21 once you know and if you're deprived of this material, it's really it's really detrimental and isolating a lot of cases," Johnson said.
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